Various municipalities around Florida have decriminalized possession of certain amounts of marijuana in recent years, but in other areas, people can get jail time for smoking a joint.
Now a South Florida Democrat wants to change that.
Broward County Rep. Shevrin Jones has filed legislation that would reduce criminal penalties for possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis and products containing 600 milligrams or less of THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s euphoric high.
“We must restore justice to our broken criminal justice system,” Rep. Jones said in a written statement. “For far too long, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana, and we must end this injustice once and for all.”
Currently the penalty is a misdemeanor violation punishable by up to one year in jail time and a $1,000 fine. Jones bill would make it a non-criminal misdemeanor violation.
A juvenile who gets busted for the first time with less than 20 grams of cannabis or 600 milligrams or less of THC product would be eligible for a civil citation or prearrest diversion program.
“After being charged with possession, many Floridians feel the lasting impact as their student financial aid, employment opportunities, housing eligibility, or immigration status are adversely affected,” Jones added.
“When we take away these foundational components of security, we’re capping people’s potential in life. That’s why I’m proud to introduce legislation to fix this problem. By tackling this issue, we can make our communities more equitable and safer.”
Local governments in Tampa, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Port Richey have passed all local ordinances in recent years decriminalizing cannabis.
Floridians who have a card that allows them to smoke medical marijuana have been doing so since 2017. Pot use for recreational consumers remains against the law.